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Man-At-Arms

Masters of the Universe
by Poe Ghostal

The Sorceress prances around in bird-form to tell Man-At-Arms that Skeletor is in the castle. Sure. She would've been better off telling Trap-Jaw... that's how ineffective Man-At-Arms is.

Man-At-Arms, also known as Duncan, was one of only three people (the other two being the Sorceress and the little floating wizard Orko) who knew that Adam, the royal prince of Eternos, was He-Man's alter ego. Other than that, we agree with Matt from X-Entertainment.com: Man-At-Arms was pretty useless. Sure, he could repair the occasional vehicle or create the odd useful device, but for every decent move he created a dud like the Dragon Walker - a vehicle that moved about the same speed a flower grows. In general, he was memorable for being old and having a helmet out of Tron.

Man-At-Arms's real name was Duncan - or perhaps it was a nickname, owing to a preference for sweet, delicious cake mixes. Or maybe not. Anyway, it was made clear on the cartoon that Duncan's position at the royal court of Eternos was Man-At-Arms. Now, as a college-educated twentysomething, this confuses me much more than it did when I was a kid. Why is he Man-At-Arms? If anything, as a "Heroic Master of Weapons" (as his packaging dubs him), he should be the "Master-of-Arms," which was a real position in royal courts. A man-at-arms is just a foot soldier, generally. What were the producers trying to say? Were they hinting at Duncan's relative incompetence? Was he once Master-of-Arms but was demoted after an accident involving a halberd? As always, we'll never know.

Another point to ponder: Adam wore white tights and a pink shirt, and his alter ego was a muscular, oiled-up, tanned guy named He-Man. Adam also spent an awful lot of time around the older, mustachioed Man-At-Arms, his "mentor." Some people might argue Adam was actually hanging around Duncan's daughter Teela, but let's remember, neither Adam or He-Man ever actually got it on with Teela. I'm just putting that out there.

Now on to the toy...

The most important part of this sculpt is the mustache. For whatever reason, the animators of the original cartoon gave Man-At-Arms a mustache; the toy, tragically, did not sport a nose-caterpillar, leading tens of kids to ruin the future eBay value of their figures by giving Duncan a magic marker makeover. The Four Horsemen have spared this new Man-At-Arms that fate. Unfortunately, they have also shrunk his head a wee bit. It's partly due to the helmet, but MAA definitely seems to have a rather tiny noggin.

Or maybe it just looks small next to that huge shoulder pad. Man-At-Arms is one of the few new MotU toys where it's really obvious the Four Horsemen once made Spawn action figures. The shoulder pad is blown all out of proportion, like a giant yellow beach ball. I'm not a fan of this part of the sculpt, though I'll say one thing: that left shoulder is safe. Well, from an attack, anyway; I imagine it'll be pretty sore in the morning from bearing all that weight.

Now, small cabeza and massive shoulder pad aside, Duncan has been, like all the new MotU figures, sculpted well. The facial expression is superb, showing determination and concern. His helmet sticks out far to the sides, but still stays closer to the head than the vintage cartoon's did.

His left arm and left leg are a little different than the right side; there seem to be indications that the left limbs are robotic prosthetics (they do seem to change shape in the new cartoon). Or he at least has a heavy metallic casing there, as if a metal cast or part of an Iron Man-style suit. Maybe he just wanted his left arm to be as strong and dextrous as his right.

MAA has two accessories: his trademark mace, which he had in the first line, and a really, really big gun. The gun is pretty boring. It attaches over his left arm and fires a missile. It has some intricate detailing, but really, it's just one more gun. The mace is much cooler; it has some great detail, including some signs of wear and tear - little dents and whatnot. However, the mace is also made from a softer plastic that tends to bend a little over time when held at an angle. Yes, basically Duncan's mace could use a little Viagra. [zing-o! --ed.] If you've got him on display, make sure he's holding it up near the middle; also, you may want to rotate the mace now and then in his hand.

Duncan also sports removable armor which, like the shoulder pad, is a little out of proportion - when you look at him head on, you can only see his eyes peeking over that mouthguard.

Duncan does have one of the best action features: push the button on his back and he whips his right, mace-bearing arm down, bashing whatever is unfortunate enough to be in front of him; let it go and he raises it up for another strike.

So, Man-At-Arms. Incompetent? Maybe. Well, yes. Well-sculpted? Indeed. Heavily armed? Certainly. Heavily padded? Indeed. Worth your money? Well, if you're collecting the new MotU figures, MAA is a must-have. If you're more of a casual collector, you can probably afford to pass him up (if you don't mind missing a major character). Kids, however, will love him, we're sure.

-- 08/12/02


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